My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 12 December (Handball and Winterbathing)

Welcome to my My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  Join me every day in opening a new door.  Once again, I’ve got a host of goodies to share with you – traditional Danish Christmas recipes, traditions, songs, games, decorations, crafts and landscapes…  So sit back, relax and enjoy!

12 DECEMBER

Just when the Danes are in the middle of stuffing themselves with æbleskiver and quaffing great quanties of snaps, julebrygand gløggthey seem to stop for a moment mid-December and forget about Christmas for a few days (or at least a few evenings) and everyone is glued to the telly.  Why?  Um, because the European Women’s Handball Championship is taking place right now.  And the Danes are c.r.a.z.y. about handball.  Not really surprising as the modern rules were made up by a Dane (a teacher at our local school) way back in 1898, and the Danes just seem to be very good at it.  Yep, interest here in Women’s handball is only surpassed by their interest in men’s handball – when the nation will once again be glued to their tellys in January.

Me?  Not a handball fan.  I get my kicks (as regular readers will know) from vinterbadning.  Winterbathing, skinny dipping in the Danish sea all year round! 🙂  Here’s a photo from this morning, about 8.15am, just as it was beginning to get light.

winterbathing

And here we are, after our second swim…sorry about the quality, but as well as being very blustery it was also raining heavily! 😛

Here’s a better photo I took last week of the Christmas tree.  Just hope it doesn’t blow away in tonight’s storm “Alexander”!

winterbathing1

The water has been really quite ‘warm’ so far this year – no sign of any snow or ice yet.  But to give you an idea of how extreme it can get, here’s a picture from when we were out swimming last January.  Note the snow and icicles on the steps…  You don’t have to be mad to be a winterbather but it helps! 😉

Keep yourselves warm, batten down the hatches for tonight’s storm and don’t forget to check back here tomorrow when we open the next door!

Diane :)


So you're Scottish?

Unless you’ve been hiding underneath a(n exceedingly) large rock for the last week, you won’t have escaped the worldwide media coverage of the Scottish referendum on Independence.  And if you’re a regular reader, it won’t have escaped your notice that I’m from Scotland 🙂

“Oh, you’re Scottish?!”, exclaim the Danes.  Before launching into, “I studied there!/We’ve toured around the highlands!”  Or, “It looks so beautiful!/We would so love to go there!”  (On a sidenote: when I worked in Luxembourg in the 1990s, the first comment I always got from Frenchmen was, “Oh là là – the film – Braveheart!”)

Males Danes will then often make a joke about kilts.

Then straight after that comes the classic, “Well, hey, you must drink a lot of whisky!”  To be honest with you, I can’t stand the stuff…  Give me a g+t!

And then there’s the really weird stuff.  Like when people start serenading me with that “classic” (and I used that in the loosest sense of the word…) Shubidua song “McArine” about the mean canny Scots who brews his own whisky…  Cover your ears and run for the hills! 😛

But back to the referendum.  Scotland said No (or “Naw”) to Independence.  Why? Well, you know, some things are just better together.  Like skinny dipping (vinterbadning) in the Danish sea.  Here’s a selfie from this morning with my two bffs – my tartan scarf kept us nice and cosy!  (Sea temperature was actually quite warm today, 16c/60f.)

And what did we have along with our cuppa (in addition to the usual cheeky banter) after our skinny dip?  Scottie dog shortbread biscuits.  Yep, got to love Scotland.  Land o’ (yummy) Cakes!

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend.  Together!

Diane 🙂

 


Spring, sand, sea and sun!

What a difference a month makes… Spring officially started here in Denmark on Saturday (1 March) and, though we’ve still got the odd night of frost, the erantis (Week Seven. Sea or sun?) are out in full force and things are definitely beginning to look up!  To give you an example…  Here’s a photo I took of my sweetie-skinny-dipping-buddy V just four weeks ago (6 February).  Freezing fog and ice on the bathing steps.  Yep, you don’t have to be mad to be a winterbather, but we find that it helps… 😉

And here’s me this morning. The sun was out – hooray, hooray – and we had an air temp of 4c (39.2f).  Okay, okay, so the water is still a tad on the chilly side – about 3c (37.4f). But we’re not complaining.  In fact, the sea was so beautiful and clear this morning that we just had to swim twice!

And there’s more good news ‘cos apparently the Danish weather gods are going to give us a beautiful, Danish spring weekend with sun, sun, sun and temperatures up to 13c (55.4f).  Time to head for the beach!

Diane 🙂

 

 


Winter is (finally) here!

I don’t know what we’ve done to appease the Danish Weather Gods this year but – holy mackerel, Batman – we’ ve had the mildest winter since I arrived in Denmark 16 years ago! 

Normally we have the first snowflakes in November.   Hats, coats, gloves and thermal undwear are de rigueur through December, January and February.  And, come March, we can be thoroughly sick of the white stuff, yearning for spring.  Because a) it’s constantly c-c-c-cold and b) getting from A to B is a constant chore.  Yep, even the short journey from home to school can involve hot chocolate and a sledge… 😉 

But this winter has been ridiculously mild.  Average daily temperatures of 6c (42f).  Lots of rain.  And long, dull, dark (and therefore pretty dreary) days.

But today the calendar says Monday 13 January.  The first day we’ve awoken to a real, old-fashioned, woah-it’s-ch-ch-ch-chilly-out-there morning and a very hard frost on the ground.

And this afternoon we had our first big, beautiful snowflakes!

But, if – like me – you’re a winterbather, here’s a little word of warning.  Watch your step!  Here’s a video I made last week (that’s me in the green bathrobe).  The noise you can hear?  No, it’s not bad audio.  It’s the howling wind 😛

Now, add to the above scene an air temperature of -4c (25f) with a windchill of -10c (14f) and – wow – this morning we had extreme winter bathing conditions.  We ran down to the water’s edge, bathrobes flapping.  Wearing gloves, hats and with extra towels around our necks – my sweetie friend H even had a fleece blanket wrapped around her waist!  There was ice on the steps of the bathing bridge and on the handrail.  Very slippery stuff!  And your bathrobe and shoes are in real danger of flying away in those high winds.  So make sure to take it in turns to swim/hold each other’s gear…

Here’a a photo I took of our bathing bridge in March last year.  There was so much ice on the bridge that we had to walk into the sea from the edge… Yep, you don’t have to be mad to be a winterbather, but it helps!

Have a marvelous wintry Monday and let’s keep warm out there!

Diane 🙂


My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar – 24 December!

Welcome back to My Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!

24 DECEMBER

Woop, woop – it’s here!  24 December and we are ready to say “God Jul!”

I started off the day – as I do most mornings – with a skinny dip in the Danish North Sea.   The weather was been extremely mild this December, with an average air temperature of 6c (42f) and water temperature 3c (37f).  Here we are…fresh out of the refreshing, cold water!   :)

We’ll probably have a fairly light lunch of various sild (pickled herrings) and tarteletter, followed by the æbleskiver (Danish Christmas donuts) my husband made, and some gløgg (Danish mulled wine).

Christmas in Denmark officially starts around 6pm on the 24th of December with dinner…

Our dinner is always roast duck, warm red cabbage, a fresh red cabbage and carrot slaw, caramelised potatoes, boiled potatoes, warm potato crisps and lots of yummy sovs (gravy).

Dessert – as tradition dictates – is ris à l’amande (cold rice pudding with hot cherry sauce).  Who’s going to find the almond and win the marcipan pig?  It’s anyone’s guess!

Anyway, on to the main event of the evening for the kids…the present opening!  Um – no – hold on!  We have to dance round the tree first! Yep, we all join hands and dance and sing around the Christmas tree.  Normally we sing “Nu er det jul igen!“, “Jingle Bells” and “Højt fra træets grønne top!”

And then the presents can be opened!  One at a time, slowly, at random.  So that everybody can see who got what from whom. Which makes for a loooooooong process. For us, it usually takes about two hours…

And after all that?  Then we collapse onto the sofa, dig into the konfekt (homemade sweets), finish off the wine and down a refreshing, cold Danish Christmas beer…  Skål!  Cheers!

And – hey – thank you for joining me for my Danish Christmas Advent Calendar!  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about those crazy Danes and their fantastic month long Christmas…

God Jul!  Merry Christmas!

Diane :)


You know you're in Denmark when… (No such thing as bad weather…)

 

You know you’re in Denmark when…

The Danes just love the saying, “Der findes intet der hedder dårligt vejr, kun dårligt påklædning!”  (“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!” – Alfred Wainright)  And we have more than our fair share of the wet stuff around these parts…  So a couple of weeks back, at the sprightly age of 46, I found myself investing in my first ever set of adult waterproofs.  This morning the heavens opened (again, again, again) so I took them out for an intensive test drive!

Don't forget your waterproofs!

And where was I headed to in the pouring rain?  Why, the beach selvfølgelig!  To go skinny dipping in the cold Danish sea!  Though, truth be told, the sea water felt warmer than the rain this morning: water temp 11c/51f and air temp 12c/53f.  Now, you’ll remember from my Winterbathing Guidethat you also need to be suitably attired for skinny dipping.  Here’s my sweetie friend H with her three essential items: bathrobe, brolly and wellies.  Yep, there’s no such thing as bad weather…

Don't forget your wellies!

Have a marvelous Monday!  Whatever the weather!

Diane 🙂


You know you’re in Denmark when… (Cycle attire)

While not an avid follower of fashion, I do try and take pride in my appearance.  (For example, I would never dream of leaving the house without mascara and lipgloss.  Hey, I don’t even walk around my own house without mascara or lipgloss – don’t want to scare myself in the mirror!)

But these autumn mornings, when I’m biking down to the sea for my skinny dip (vinterbadning, as it’s called in Danish – read about my passion for that right here), I find myself in a quandary.  ‘Cos it’s chilly on my way down to the sea, but warming up on the way back.  A little too soon to be wearing gloves.  But – waaaaaaaaah – my wrists get dang cold.  Yes, yes, I may be a winterbather and swim in the sea when it’s frozen at the edges.  But at all other times I’m a frossen pind (“frozen stick”). 

Winterbathing – this is the life!

What to do?  I dug out a (very old) pair of woollen legwarmers.  And popped them on my wrists.  To wear as an extra layer under my woollen cardigan and coat.  Værsgo’!  Problem solved!

No more cold wrists!

Okay, so it’s not fashion, darling.  But it works.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful – woolly – weekend!

Diane :)


Farewell summer…hello winterbathing!

Early Monday morning – like most weekday mornings – I was down at the beach having a swim in the sea with my (fellow-female-heading-towards-50-year-old) buddies.  All our kids are back at school/college/work after the Danish 6-week-long summer holiday and, alack alas, the summery weather is beginning to follow suit.  Yep, the afternoons can be positively tropical but there’s a definite chill in the air before sunrise and after sundown.  (Note to self: keep old towels in the garage, for wiping the dew off the bikes in the morning.)  The water temperature, which peaked at around 21c (70f) last month, is now cooling down, day by day.  So there we were, sitting on the shore, sipping tea from our thermos, nibbling figenstænger (fig bars) and mourning the passing of summer…

Winterbathing adventures ahead!

This morning there had been a (sea)change.  Yes, okay, the water was colder than it has been the last couple of weeks.  The first couple of strokes actually took my breath away.  (Note to self: remember to put my asthma inhaler back in my swimming bag.)  But when we came out of the water, we weren’t sad about the passing of summer.   We were excited about autumn and winter and all the bathing adventures that lie ahead!  Hooray, no pesky stinging summer jellyfish to worry about!   Bathing in huge waves.  Bathing in the fog.  Bathing in the pouring rain.  Bathing at sundown.  Bathing when it’s so windy that we have to tie our dressing gowns to the bridge so they don’t fly away.  Skating across the ice on the bathing bridge, dressed only in dressing gowns and bathing shoes.  Bathing on the First of December dressed in – and only in – a Santa Hat.  Jumping over the ice on the sand in order to get into the sea.  Bathing in slush ice.

Yep.  Been there.  Done all of that.  And are excited and ready to do it all again! Vinterbadning?  Det er livet!  Winterbathing?  This is the life!

Fancy having a go yourself?  NOW is the time to start.  Take the plunge while the water is still relatively warm and then keep going, taking one day at a time.  Go read my Winterbathing for Dummies (Part One – Be Prepared!)(Part Two – Taking the Plunge!)and (Part Three – The Aftermath) for my tips and tricks.

Come on in, the water’s lovely!

So, see you in the sea?

Diane :)


Winter bathing – who wants a slushice?

If you’ve a regular reader, you already know that I’m a h.u.g.e fan of vinterbadning. Winter bathing. Skinny dipping in the Danish
sea. What ever you want to call it. Though I guess most people would probably
just call it plain madness… ;)
I’m just back from this morning’s dip and can report that the sea is slowly but
surely turning into slush ice. We have, of course, had sub zero temperatures
for the past couple of weeks. Which has meant that we aren’t able to use the
bathing bridge, as it’s very slippery and icy. Here’s a photo of the bathing
bridge steps this morning…impassable!

I love winter bathing!

The bathing bridge steps today – January 2013

And here’s me on the same steps, a couple of summers ago…

I love winter bathing!

The bathing bridge steps – September 2011

So for the past week, we’ve waded in to the sea from the side. Today it was
a new experience for us because there was some slush ice! Yay! What did it
feel like? Hmm, like putting your hands into a bucket of gravel!

Winter bathing in Denmark

My sweetie friend V on the bathing bridge

Now, to be honest, we don’t really have extreme weather to speak of here in
Denmark. But there is something fascinating about watching the waves coming in,
slowing up and finally turning into slush ice on the shore. Here’s some video I
took this morning. Won’t be long now before the sea freezes over completely –
probably three or four days…

So, will you be joining us down at the beach? Don’t forget your bathrobe and
a pickaxe!

Diane :)

PS: Today’s stats: air temp -5c/23f, windchill -11c/12f, water temperature
-0.5c/31f. Yup, pretty chilly!


Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Three – The Aftermath!)

Okay, so you did your homework (Winterbathing for Dummies – Be Prepared!) and have been for a
skinny dip in the Danish sea (Winterbathing for Dummies – Taking the Plunge!).

So now what? Chances are that you found it scary – but incredibly
exhilarating – and are ready for more? Great! But stripping off down at the
seaside is only fun for so long. Trust me – been there – done that!

30 January 2012 – a few days before the sea turned to
ice!

If you’re determined to keep going for the whole season – which for real Vikings
is from November through to April – you’ll most likely want to join a club. A
place to change and hang up your clothes (without them blowing off down the
beach). Some clubs even have showers, toilets and saunas. But most of all,
you’ll just want a place to share your love of this Danish extreme sport with
other fanatics!

There is a great overview of Danish clubs, with a nifty little map, at vinterbader.com They’ve
also put together a handy list of contact details for the various clubs…you can
find that here. But be warned. Winterbathing has become extremely
popular the last few years, and most clubs have waiting lists – some of them 6
years long! ;)

28 October 2011 – my friend V bathing in fog

Yep, you don’t have to be a crazy Dane to be a winterbather but it sure
helps… See you on the bathing bridge?

Diane :)


Winterbathing for Dummies (Part Two – Taking the Plunge!)

Last time I gave you a rundown of what you’ll need to do before you try winterbathing ( Winterbathing for Dummies (Part One – Be Prepared!)

So, are you ready to go down to the beach and ‘take the plunge’? ;)

February 2012 – the North sea has turned into slushice!

Here’s what you need to know, before you take that first step into the cold, cold water…

  • Remember, remember, always bring a friend with you – either to join you in the water, or keep an eye on you from the water’s edge.
  • You can walk right in from the edge of the water, but it’s easier from a bathing bridge. Your aim is to get in fairly deep – up to your neck – as quickly as possible.
  • Check the water before you get in. Are there any stinging jellyfish hanging around, just waiting to strike? 

    The winterbather’s arch enemy…stinging jellyfish!

  • Remove your bathrobe (on windy days, you’ll need to physically tie it to the bathing bridge…) and remove your shoes last (your feet get colder faster than your body).
  • Be resolute.   Walk right in – don’t stop!  Say to yourself that you are going to take 2, 4 or 6 swimstrokes in the water.  Don’t allow yourself to think “Yikes, I’m freezing”.  It really is a question of mind over matter! 
  • Do not hop in – it’s dangerous (very hard on the heart, especially at low temperatures).
  • There is no need to put your head underneath the water if you don’t want to.  I never put my head under (unless it’s the summer).  Keeping your hair dry will keep your head warm!  (I wear a little wooly hat when it’s very blustery/ice cold.)
  • If you begin to feel heavy/very relaxed, get out of the water immediately.  It’s a sign that your heart/body are working overload.  What will happen next is that your body will shut down any ‘unnecessary’ functions like hearing/sight etc.  Not a nice feeling.
  • When you come up, quickly dry yourself off and get your bathrobe back on pronto (we don’t want to frighten any passers-by!)
  • You’ll notice that parts of your body (usually it’s fingers and toes) will have turned brighted red or orange.  Quite normal – don’t panic.  Your normal colour should return in a couple of minutes. 

    Cold fingers!

Tillykke!  Congratulations!  Yep, you did it.  And should be left feeling a) enormously proud of yourself  b) very warm, considering the fact that you are standing on a deserted, cold, blustery beach… :)

Join me next time for Winterbathing for Dummies – The Aftermath!

 Diane


If the (winterbathing) shoe fits…

What gear do you need to go winter bathing?

Me in the water last Monday morning 🙂

Hmm, very little.  A nice, long, warm bathrobe.  And shoes.  Flipflops, of course, are great.  Easy to kick on and off.  Until, that is, the air temperature drops to around 4 degrees and the sand starts ‘crunching’ underfoot! ;D  So I’ve been using these surf shoes for a while.  Not because you can wear them in the sea – which of course is great on the days when there are sharp stones around – but because they keep my feet warm while I’m crossing the beach (attired only in my birthday suit and aforementioned bathrobe).   Not exactly elegant footwear, but they do the job.

Well, the only problem with these shoes is that they have started to pong.  I’ve tried everything.  Hand washing them with soap, given them a run for their money in the washing machine, tried bicarb of soda, sewed some tiny lavender scent bags to put inside them…  And still they pong!  So much so, that it’s now become a running joke with my winterbathing friend V.  “Who brought the roquefort with them?!”

This morning I decided that Enough was Enough.  So I’ve just ordered a new pair.  Though I’ve decided to try a new type.  Just as ugly.  Not neoprene but plastic/rubber.  And with holes all over for good [ahem] ‘ventilation’.  I await with baited breath (and close-pegged nose) to see if they fair any better…

Have a terrific Tuesday and don’t forget to smell the flowers! 🙂


A Christmas (Winter bathing) Miracle

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that my friend V and I love vinterbadning (skinny dipping in the Danish sea, all year long).  And have become thorougly Addicted.  We’ve been stripping off down by the waterfront.  Come rain, hail or shine.  But, with the temperatures beginning to plummet and storms brewing aplenty, we were forced to realise that – at some point – standing undressing/dressing in the snow just wasn’t going to be fun.  (Funnily enough, the thought of being in the freezing cold water is an attraction – ha!)

Huge waves = huge fun! 🙂

We’re on the waiting list for not one, but two, different bathing clubs.  One of which has a 6 year waiting list…  The clubs have changing rooms, toilets, hot showers and [sniff, sniff] sizzling saunas!   Waaaaaaah!   Let us in from the cold!

Our current al fresco ‘changing room’…

we bring our own bathmats – slightly warmer than standing on cold paving stones! ;D

But, this Tuesday morning, an Angel appeared before us.  Walking his dog.  He and his wife – fellow winterbathers – had seen us many times on the bathing bridge.  (Yep, told you that we’re there on a daily basis.)  They thought we were ‘cool’ to have braved the elements.  But wouldn’t we like to have the key to an old storeroom, owned by the Chief Lifeguard?  Nothing fancy.  No space to swing a cat.  No running water.  And in desperate need of maintenance. (It literally hasn’t been cleaned or dusted for 15 years [sneezes] but nothing that my Flylady purple feather duster can’t cope with!)

But, wow, there are walls!  Four of them!  A door!  A bench!  A hook to hang our clothes!  Halleluja!  We feel like Mary and Joseph, who’ve been given space in the stable…  Yep, there are such things as Christmas miracles! ;D

♪♫”I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas day in the morning….” ♪♫

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend! 🙂


Wot no bathing bridge?

My sweetie friend V and I arrived at the beach yesterday morning – desperate for our skinny dip in the Danish sea (yes, yes, we’re completely addicted now) – and were met with this sorry sight…

The sign on the bridge says “Use at your own risk”! ;D  

Sunday night’s storm had destroyed our beloved bathing bridge 🙁  If you can’t remember what it looked like before, read my old posts or look here…

A sunny morning in September 🙂

At first we were completely downhearted.  I mean, honest to goodness, haven’t we done fabulously well since we started back in June?  And we were all set to celebrate swimming on the 1st of December (tomorrow) with Santa hats…  🙁  Oh pook!

But, hey, we decided to see it as a test.  A new challenge for us.  Who needs a bathing bridge anyway?  So we threw off our bathrobes and ran into the sea as fast as we could from the edge of the water.  And splashed around (giggling like schoolgirls) until our hands and feet were numb from the cold.  We did it!  Another victory!  And you know what?  We can do ANYTHING! 🙂

Have a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂 


1st November and still going strong!

Happy 1st November!  And congratulations to my friend V and I for making it through yet another month of Danish helårsbadning.  All-year-round sea bathing.  Daily skinny dipping.  Whatever you want to call it – we just can’t get enough of it!

My friend V after a dip on a warm September morning

We’ve had all kinds of weather since we started in the month of May.  Sun.

Rain.

Wind + waves that were bigger than our heads…

Fog…

Surreal to hear fog horns when you’re out having a swim ;D

We’ve managed to avoid stinging jellyfish.

And it’s been a breeze!  So today we celebrated with hot tea and chocolate cake that – as Danish clocks went back on Sunday to mark the end of summertime – we are now officially “winter” bathers or vinterbadere! 😀

And the water temperature today?  It was 9 degrees celcius (or 48.2 fahrenheit).  And it felt fantastic!  And we’re still ‘swimming’ not just ‘dipping’ our bodies in and out of the water.  So we’re in good form for our next winterbathing milestone which is 1st December – when we’ll celebrate with a swim in the water followed by a Christmas lunch by the sea.  And, who knows, maybe there’ll even be some snow?  Brr!

Have a terrific Tuesday! 🙂